St. Paul schools settles case involving racial quotas in school discipline

He said the district was failing black students by allowing mostly-black classrooms to be disrupted, and by not holding misbehaving black students accountable for their actions. 

Aaron Benner

A Minnesota teacher received a $525,000 settlement, after suing the St. Paul School District for retaliating against him after he criticized its use of racial quotas in school discipline. 

Aaron Benner, a black man, filed the suit in 2017. He said the St. Paul School District forced him to quit after investigating him four times in the 2014-15 school year. Those investigations were a first for Benner, who had nothing else on his disciplinary record, and was by all accounts an outstanding teacher. 

If fact, you might be a bad teacher in the St. Paul School District and be safely employed for life. Benner, however, did something worse than be a bad teacher—he stood against the leftwing system.

Benner first spoke out, through the proper channels, in the 2011-12 school year. That fell on deaf ears. 

At the time, the district was led by Valeria Silva, a leftwing activist who was pushing to “reduce racial disparities in student discipline.” Silva’s way of doing this was to simply not discipline black students who had repeat misbehavior problems. 

In 2013, Benner blew a whistle on the district offering a bonus to principals who reduced suspensions—another failed Silva policy, the effect of which led to principals not disciplining students, which kept disruptive students in the classroom. The district ended this practice after Benner brought it to public attention. 

In May 2014, Benner joined four other teachers at a board meeting, where he pushed against St. Paul School District’s racial quotas on school discipline. He said the district was failing black students by allowing mostly-black classrooms to be disrupted, and by not holding misbehaving black students accountable for their actions. 

And after Benner was “fired” in 2015, he went on the Fox News show The O’reilly Factor to voice his concerns, as the issues he faced in St. Paul were also part of a nationwide trend. 

Why the district settled

The settlement is large, but it is likely the district didn’t want to proceed with a suit, due to the discovery and bad publicity that it would bring. Benner had also just won a court ruling that allowed him to seek punitive damages in the case. And before that ruling, the district had tried to get the case thrown out, only to be shot down by the judge. 

Benner told the Star Tribune in an email: “I thank God for all the blessings in my life. I turned 50 this year, got married in July and now (there is) this settlement.” 

While a teacher for the St. Paul School District, Benner last taught at John A. Johnson Achievement Plus Elementary. After being pushed out, Benner took a job at a charter school in 2015, and now works at Cretin-Derham Hall. 

Justice was done for Mr. Benner, but it hasn’t been done for far too many public school students in the Twin Cities. St. Paul public school students lost a good teacher in Mr. Benner and countless students have no doubt been harmed by the disruption and mayhem that existed in their classrooms while they were guinea pigs in yet another progressive experiment. 

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